Crane crushes ABC building in WA | radioinfo

Crane crushes ABC building in WA

Monday 16 May, 2005

ABC South West WA in Bunbury has been taken off the air after a crane collapse onto the broadcasting complex.

After what has been described as a mini cyclone, thousands of homes are without power as heavy rain and damaging winds, in excess of 140 kilometres an hour, lash the Western Australian coast.

Journalists had left the Bunbury newsroom just moments before a 38 metre crane from an adjoining residential development toppled over, crushing half the building.

ABC rural reporter, Babs McHugh, says the noise was horrific.

"It's absolute chaos. The rear of the building is completely gone. Half the roof is missing."

Alisha O'Flaherty was walking to a printer before her 6.30am bulletin:

"I heard a sound like a train coming towards me and, basically, this enormous crash behind me, and the whole office was destroyed.

"I was shocked for a second, and then we all gathered together and left the building because we didn't think it was stable. It's an amazing sight. This crane has collapsed on the building and half of it is flattened."

Breakfast host, Genine Unsworth, was on air at the time and had no idea what was happening:

"I was broadcasting live across the southwest when I heard this massive noise that sounded like a thunder strike. There was a loud bang and then this almighty crash and, obviously, the crane had come down.

"We're relatively calm now. We're very fortunate. Alisha is so fortunate because the newsroom is just rubble and if she had been in there, I'm not sure she would be alive."

While all staff are safe, the ABC website advises there will be some disruption to services.

"The ABC will patch through Perth and statewide programming to cover in the meantime, and we will endeavour to have local service back as soon as possible."

Heavy rain is being felt across the metropolitan region. In Perth, a large construction crane being used on the new development of the Raffles Hotel was damaged and is leaning at an angle.

Shops and businesses have been damaged. One shop owner has arrived to find a roof from the other side of Canning Highway smashed into his business.

Trees and branches are strewn across the road and there is no indication when the highway will be reopened.

Lightning and debris on power lines has left 10 000 homes without electricity.

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